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1947 Sid Luckman Game-Worn Chicago Bears Durene Jersey (w/Repairs)
Sid Luckman was to his generation as Otto Graham was to his, as Starr and Tarkenton were to theirs, as Marino and Elway were to the ‘80s and ‘90s, and Favre and Brady are to the modern era. They have no peer, Sid had no peer. Perhaps his most enduring epithet is that he's universally regarded as the "Godfather of the modern T-formation." His 14,686 yards and 137 TD’s seem modest by today’s pass-happy standards, but those numbers were major accomplishments in the pre-TV era. He led the Bears to four championships; he was an MVP winner, a five-time All-Pro, and he possessed uncanny accuracy and on-field leadership aptitude.
As far as his game-worn jerseys are concerned, they're virtually non-existent...until now. Originally given as a memento to a Chicago friend and business associate, this treasure was handed down...father-to-son...where it resided in a closet for decades as “another family remembrance of yesteryear.”
Our consignor's father was President of Interstate United, a food service company which specialized in volume feeding. After his football career, Luckman served as an executive with Cellu-Craft Products – a plastic wrap company. Luckman was a supplier to Interstate United. Our consignor's father and Luckman became friends through work. Luckman gave the offered jersey to our consignor's father as a token of appreciation. It has never been available for sale until now. A notarized letter detailing the story of the jersey being given to his father by Luckman will accompany. Available on-line is a dinner banquet program which honored the consignor's father (yellow highlight). Luckman was on the board of directors. This banquet took place in March of 1975.
The jersey body itself is inherently durable in that it's made of medium-weight, sheened, midnight navy nylon durene with the Bears' triple sleeve stripe pattern embedded into the fabric. Bears' jerseys ran the gamut of fabric styles in the '40s, ranging from an uncomfortable heavyweight theme, with significant wool content, down to a manageable nylon durene, the latter maintaining its shape and surface luster far more readily. The diagonal shoulder striping (made famous by Wilson) is present on front and back, and the inner back tail carries one of sport's most beautiful labels, the May & Halas “A Bear for Quality,” along with dual flag tags – one designating size “44,” the other “Dry Clean Only.” (Of note is that a durene would not necessarily need to be dry cleaned, but that was standard cleaning instruction on most '40s jerseys with higher wool content...hence the presence of this tag is a result of tradition.) The most conspicuous and electrifying aspect of the jersey is the enormous, bright orange "42" on the front and verso. It is a highly sheened satin twill expressed in an unmistakable broad font with serifs and rounded edges on the "2." The font style is also horizontally dominant - a first for the era - and extends over the shoulder seams. Getty Image #76939707 shows an exact style match, even to the evidence of differentiating between the primitive wool fabric and the sheened durene. Our cover photo of Luckman (in a passing motion) shows the exact number font and an additional unique feature - On this jersey and in the photo, there are pleats which extend vertically from each collar seam for about eight inches, and then abruptly “die on the vine” at mid-shoulder. Precisely, the Bears wore this number style and unique tailoring in the 1947 season.
In the course of professional analysis, it was discovered that the jersey had undergone a team-instituted number change. Traces of an original “12” outline in this exact font style can be faintly detected. Part of the reason that such can be determined is that the situating of the numerals ("1" and "2") was oriented differently than "42." It is conclusive that the present "42" was period-instituted, franchise-sanctioned and administered. This is satisfactorily explained in that an aspiring player in 1946, Walt Lamb, didn't make the club in ’47, and his jersey was thereby converted from #12 to #42. According to authenticator Lou Lampson, this was a common practice in the austere “Papa Bear” 1940s and '50s era, and Lamb’s physical bearing (6’ 1”; 195 lbs.) nearly mirrors that of Luckman (6’ 0”; 197 lbs.). Luckman was the only Bear to wear #42.
Other meaningful points of reference are the embedded sleeve supports, as well as minor traces of white paint appearing on the lower left sleeve, lower front tail (adjacent to the seam) and a few specks of paint on the lower jersey body. Do the paint blemishes detract from appearance and displayability? We think not, but, if they're at all a distraction, let it be said that this shiny durene material...with the boldest of bold and largest of large numeric identifiers...makes the jersey the most attractive and identifiable Luckman jersey of the entire decade. With regards to the embedded elbow pads, they were team-installed with straight stitching and openings to accomodate pads for games when the turf was frozen. Though the jersey bears no wounds (other than an interior minor repair under the "4"), it is clearly evident that it served season-long field duty. Despite the number change, the jersey remains the most important pre-1958 (the NFL's "Dark Ages") gamer that has been offered in a long, long time. We salute you Sid Luckman...and your 1947 home jersey masterpiece.
100% Authentic Team, Notarized Letter
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